Wilmington Evening Journal - September 3, 1980
Brusstar helps Phillies gun down Giants
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
SAN FRANCISCO – He has gun-fighter eyes, draws quickly and when the smoke settles, there's not much noise around his feet.
When he's on, and it has been almost two years since he was in his prime, he can handle the toughest shooters with uncanny ease.
Warren Brusstar stalked into the foggy saloon that was Candlestick Park last night and put down a couple of loud Giant rumbles that all but left his teammates for dead.
Brusstar's relief pitching helped the Phillies beat San Francisco 2-1 in 13 innings. Manny Trillo doubled and eventually scored the winning, run on back-to-back sacrifices.
The victory kept the Phils on top in the National League East by 1 percentage point over Montreal, a 2-1 winner over San Diego. Idle Pittsburgh dropped to third place, a half-game off the pace.
If you didn't lay awake sweating , this one out via radio or television, you missed one of the finest exhibitions of relief pitching the Phils have received all year.
After they had cracked a scoreless tie with an unearned run in the top of the ninth off Vida Blue, Tug McGraw was asked to protect the 1-0 lead for Larry Christenson. Christenson had allowed the Giants just one single over eight innings, despite the fact he injured a groin muscle in the fourth.
It wasn't McGraw's night. With one down in the bottom of the ninth, Mike Ivie singled to left and Darrell Evans walked. Milt May singled to right, scoring pinch-runner Johnnie LeMaster with the tying run as Evans raced to third.
Giants on first and third, one out.
As Manager Dallas Green summoned Brusstar, many in the meager crowd of 6,135 packed up their blankets and ear muffs and hot toddies and headed for the exits.
Before they got there, though, Brusstar had doused the fire. He got Rennie Stennett to bounce into a double play.
Brusstar, who grew up across San Francisco Bay in Oakland, backed himself against the wall in the 11th. When was the last Jme a Phillies' reliever worked out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out disaster?
Jim Wohlford laced a single to right to start the inning. Brusstar then walked LeMaster, and Evans was safe on a bunt single. That brought up Mike Sadek, who had entered the duel as a runner for May.
"You have to take 'em one at a time," Brusstar would say later. "You can't think about the second out until you get the first out."
Those piercing eyes were glaring down at Sadek, The Giant catcher tried to get a piece of the sinkerball and sent a grounder to shorstop Bowa, who rifled a throw to the plate.
One down, bases still loaded.
Now it was up to Stennett. Another sinkerball and another grounder, this one back to Brusstar. He scoooped it up and threw to the plate.
Two down, bases still loaded.
Up came Joe Strain. The best he could do was a grounder to Trillo, who made the easy throw to first.
Ron Reed took over for Brusstar in the 12th and pitched out of a two-on, two-out predicament. After the Phils went ahead in the 13th against reliever Al Holland, Reed put the numb Giants down in order.
"It was an important victory for me and the team," said Reed, who has struggled in his last five appearances. "But the tempo for the whole thing was set by Brusstar. He did one fine job."
Throughout most of 1979 and much of this year, games such as last night's would have been lost by the Phillies.
As Manager Danny Ozark was making his farewell addresses last September, he kept telling everybody the single biggest reason the Phils crumbled was because Brusstar had been unable to pitch.
Brusstar was in 58 games in 1977 and 58 the following season. A persistent shoulder injury that surfaced during spring training in 1979 put him on the shelf for all but 13 games last year. He did not make his first appearance this summer until July 13.
"Each time out I have felt stronger," he said. "Tonight obviously was my best outing since I got hurt. All I could do in that 11th inning was just relax and go right at them. I went with my sinker and hoped that they would hit it on the ground.
"I couldn't start thinking and outguess myself. I had to go right at them. With this defense we have, there's nothing to worry about. When I walked LeMaster, I was aiming the ball. After I did that, I just concentrated on relaxing. Tonight, my ball was tailing away from the hitters and that gave me quite a few ground balls to the opposite side of the infield. I didn't jam them like I usually do.
"This was great for my confidence. The other night in San Diego I felt my fastball really coming. I was able to throw it by people for the first time since I got hurt. Brfore. that was something I was always able to do. Tonight, though, I just kept the ball down. I didn't want to strike anybody out; I wanted them to hit ground balls. I think getting that double play in the ninth brought the whole team on. They were down a little because it looked like San Francisco had the game won."
"Brusstar was outstanding tonight and I couldn't be happier," raved Green. "He got the double play in the ninth, then pitched out of his'own jam in the 11th. He was super. It took some grinding tonight and we won it."
Blue gave up a single to Bowa leading off the third inning. After that, he did not allow another base runner until Bob Boone slid safely into first on Evans' throwing error in the ninth.
Pinch-hitter Ramon Aviles, batting for Christenson, sacrificed pinch-runner Jay Loviglio to second and moments later Lonnie Smith delivered a single that gave the Phils a 1-0 lead.
Trillo roped a would-be single to center to start the 13th, but when he saw the ball slow on the wet turf, he never stopped until he was at second.
Bowa moved him to third with a sacrifice bunt and Keith Moreland's sacrifice fly to medium center scored Trillo.
EXTRA POINTS – Christenson injured his groin covering first base on Terry Whitfield's grounder in the fourth. As soon as the inning ended, trainer Don Seger wrapped the injured area and Christenson remained in the game... Blue allowed just two hits over 10 innings... The Phils, who were 16-20 in one-run decisions through July, have lost just three since July 28 to improve their record in that category to 21-23. They are 7-7 in extra-inning games... The Candlestick Park infield is a disgrace to the National League. The dirt portions are so hard baseball cleats will not even sink in... Dick Ruthven starts against the Giants' Allen Ripley tonight, after which the Phils jet to Los Angeles for four games with the Dodgers... Last night's success gave the Phils a 32-32 road record and a 4-2 mark on this 11-game trip.